Albion, MI's Railroad Crossing on I-94
In 1873, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad was completed between Lansing and Hillsdale, MI, passing through the town of Albion. The railroad was the clear cut state of the art transportation system of the day.
Just over eighty years later, the Interstate Highway System was quickly overtaking the railroad industry's dominance in long distance travel. As early as 1940, this change would mean that the LS&MS's successor, the New York Central Railroad, would begin abandonment of the line between Lansing and Springport, the village north of Albion on the line.
Railroads would have to relocate their roads above newly-constructed highways, and highways would have to build around existing railroad property.
For the most part in the US, this wasn't an issue, but this would come to a head in Albion, Michigan, where an at-grade crossing was built to accommodate the newly constructed I-94 in the late 1950's.
1959 picture of I-94 Railroad Crossing. Image: AlbionMich.com
|Wayne State University 1961 Satellite Image via Building Washtenaw. North is obviously up in this image.|
While such a crossing is unusual, it is far from without precedent. Someone actually made a map of limited access railroad crossings, some of which indicate that other interstate highways have had railroad crossings, but it is an incredibly rare occurrence, but I still wonder if these crossings were active when the road was actually signed as an interstate.
UPDATE: Tom Ketchum notes in an email that I-94 apparently had a second crossing as well around the Ann Arbor area. "The line from Ypsilanti to Pittsfield Township also crossed I-94 at grade. Both of these crossings featured the standard grade crossing flashers, and the round advance RXR signs, but also, full traffic signals and, before the advance RXR sign, another RXR sign, with yellow flashers, one above, one below, which activated with the crossing signals, which also prompted the traffic signal to go from green, to amber, to red. The I-94 crossings were grandfathered in, as the highway was built prior to the Interstate Highway Act, as a freeway for US 12, and, the two lines were, even then, infrequently operated branch lines."
Thanks as always for reading!